Nutanix AOS 5.6 is here along with AFS

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The Nutanix AOS 5.5 release back in December 2017 unleashed many new features that pushed the envelope on resilience, performance, security, and operational agility. AOS 5.6 picks up where 5.5 left off and makes Nutanix an increasingly persuasive choice for IT organizations to build their enterprise clouds with.

What’s new with 5.6?

  1. Microsegmentation – Application-centric network security
  2. Greater performance for large databases with volume group load balancer on AHV
  3. Greater deployment flexibility with two-node clusters
  4. Delivering scale-out to Prism Central
  5. Delivering next-generation v3 APIs
  6. Support up to 80TB per node
  7. Guest OS shutdown operations for AHV
  8. Greater performance improvements for erasure coding

Microsegmentation – Application-centric network security

The first set of SDN security features are coming out of tech preview with the GA of microsegmentation in AHV. Customers can immediately take full advantage of a stateful distributed firewall in the form of microsegmentation, network automation, and service insertion/chaining as they are natively integrated to AHV and Prism Central. Most importantly, it is easier to improve security posture through granular application segmentation, VDI user isolation, quarantine, and much more. Nutanix “1-click” simplicity applies to policies that are created and enforced with no requirements on the underlying network allowing admins to manage policies without needing physical network configuration or deep application knowledge. Additionally, network functionality can be extended via service chaining capabilities that allow for Nutanix ecosystem partners to insert their own advanced capabilities to cover most customer needs.

Greater performance for large databases with volume group load balancer on AHV

When running large databases and high-performance applications, application IO demands can be very high. The volume group load balancer allows Nutanix clusters to scale-up per application needs by leveraging the scale-out architecture of our distributed file system. Thus, application disk IO can get automatically spread out across multiple nodes in a Nutanix cluster leveraging multiple CVMs to deliver the required performance.

Greater deployment flexibility with two-node clusters

Remote office/branch office customers can now deploy clusters in 1-node and 2-node configurations. This allows remote sites to still take advantage of Nutanix and choose a configuration that best fits their requirements.

Delivering scale-out to Prism Central

In 5.6 we are announcing the scale-out support for PC. With this support, multiple instances of PC form a distributed control plane. Thus, customers having mid to large Nutanix clusters are now able to benefit from higher PC resiliency and leverage the distributed cluster resource. In addition, they are able to benefit from the simplicity of 1-click scale-out option of PC deployment.

Delivering next-generation v3 APIs

Nutanix AOS 5.6 brings forth Virtual Infrastructure Management capabilities via the RESTful V3 APIs. These APIs are built on an intentful model and are limited to Prism Central. They will allow customers to deliver self-service portal functionality to their IT organizations along with many other features such as microsegmentation.

Support up to 80TB per node

In this release, we are announcing the support for 80TB of capacity per single node. This feature delivers more capacity and space consolidation for capacity heavy workloads. Now customers can expand the existing cluster’s capacity with 80TB nodes. This will be a great solution for backup use cases. For example, ROBO locations that need local backup can leverage the 80TB nodes. Please refer to our qualified platform list for more information.

Guest OS shutdown operations for AHV

Modern applications are complex. To help make administration easier, AHV has been enhanced with guest scripting for automation of power state operations. The new option allows customers to execute user-defined shutdown scripts to reboot/shutdown the guest OSs manually via Prism or incorporate it into existing automation via our APIs.

Greater performance improvements for Erasure Coding

With our new Erasure Coding algorithms, we are able to more efficiently process changed data, resulting in faster writes and far better overall performance when using Erasure Coding. Customers that are using EC-X will immediately benefit from this feature.

What’s new with AFS

NFS protocol supportAFS adds incremental file level backup supportActive-Active deploymentsFile auditing

NFS protocol support

The wait is over, with this release AFS is supporting the NFS v4 protocol. With support for both NFS and SMB protocols, AFS can address a wide range of use cases including Linux support, and Windows home directories, user profiles and departmental shares. AFS supports separate SMB and NFS shares/exports on the same file server. For more details on NFS v4 refer to this blog.

AFS adds incremental file Level backup support

5.6 incorporates Change File Tracking (CFT) to allow efficient backups. Nutanix has exposed REST APIs to enable these backups. CFT based backups are more efficient, eliminating the need to traverse the full data sets over and over again. Therefore, customers can leverage the simplicity and efficiency of CFT and enjoy integrated backup solutions for AFS. We are actively working with partners to build support for these APIs.

Active-Active deployments

With the Active-Active deployments, geographically dispersed teams will benefit from fast, local access to project file replicas maintained in real-time across multi-site AFS clusters. Also, this would be able to handle sync profiles and home directories across locations in real-time to ensure that VDI instances have fast local access to user data.

Nutanix has a partnership with Peer Software, wherein we will integrate with their PeerLink product for Active-Active deployments. Each site collaborating on a project (or at the two sites in case of VDI load balancing) will have an independent AFS namespace. Anytime there is a relevant change within an AFS namespace, the PeerLink software will be notified of the change. PeerLink will then replicate this change to all the “peer” AFS namespace(s), including file locks, keeping the namespaces in sync. This will allow for bi-directional synchronization between two sites, or multi-site synchronization for collaboration of projects. This PeerLink solution will be available shortly in a maintenance release of AFS.

File auditing

We have exposed REST APIs to provide audit capabilities such as maintaining audit logs of all access/modification to AFS. File Auditing can be done through an external syslog server, and we are vigorously working with partners to deliver powerful auditing solutions.

For more information on AFS partner ecosystem, please refer to this blog.

This was a short and sweet version of the Nutanix AOS 5.6 release. My favorite one is AHV security enhancement by supporting microsegmentation. There are additional features that are not covered in this blog post. You can get the complete release notes and download the upgrade bundles from Please remember that your feedback is crucial to us for developing features that are efficient, simple, and innovative.

If you are new to Nutanix, please send us a note at We can’t wait to introduce you to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform.

This blog includes forward-looking statements, including but not limited to our plans to integrate our products with our partner’s products. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts, and instead are based on our current expectations, estimates, opinions and beliefs. The accuracy of such forward-looking statements depends upon future events, and involves risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond our control that may cause these statements to be inaccurate and cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied by such statements, including, among others: the failure to integrate our products with our partner’s products and the possibility that we may not receive anticipated results from forming such partnerships; the introduction, or acceleration of adoption of, competing solutions, including public cloud infrastructure; a shift in industry or competitive dynamics or customer demand; and other risks detailed in our Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2018, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this presentation and, except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results or subsequent events or circumstances.

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